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The Apprentice: Martha Stewart – Why Jim Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/21/2005
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Jim was never destined to win, that much was clear. How he made it to the final three remains something of a mystery. But was there any possible way he could have made it through the interviews? Why did Jim get tossed out? Why did Jim lose?
The answers to these questions may seem obvious, but we need to go through What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned just to make sure. After all, sometimes the obvious answers aren’t the full story.
The first rule tells applicants to show leadership. Jim won twice as project manager, but being a leader is not just about winning – it’s more about the way you deal with your team. I doubt anybody on his team really considered Jim their “leader.”
His actions both when project manager and when just another team member showed that he could often not be taken seriously. This is not to say that a leader can’t have fun. In fact, they should try to make work a more enjoyable place. But they also have to be respected as the boss. Jim jumped around on the kitchen counter, or telling people in a store that salad dressing is good for their feet, and did many other bizarre things that simply made him a joke, not a leader. While many of these things occurred outside the watchful gaze of Martha & Co., others were seen. Eventually, that kind of thing adds up.
The second rule says to stay cool under fire. On the one hand, we saw Jim go through a number of Conference Rooms where he was under pressure but he managed to get the other player fired. This showed that he could maintain his calm in a stressful situation and turn the negative attention onto somebody else. On the other hand, though, it seemed that some of his odd behavior was the result of nervous energy aimed in inappropriate directions. This speaks to him not being quite so cool under fire.
Third is to have a backbone. I don’t think anybody can doubt that Jim has a backbone. We saw him stand up for himself and his ideas numerous times. So let’s move on.
Ah, here we arrive at one of the keys to both Jim staying around and him eventually leaving. The fourth rule says scheming and plotting usually don’t work. Note the “usually.” Jim treated The Apprentice: Martha Stewart like it was Survivor or Big Brother rather than like a job interview. He schemed, he plotted, he played the game.
Early on, it helped him. He messed with some people’s minds, he deflected blame, he might even have scared a few people from going after him. As the series progressed, though, that became less important. Eventually, he became so bold – or so egotistical – that he even admitted to the president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia that he was playing this as a game!
That came back to haunt him when that same person was one of the interviewers taking the final three down to a final two. She already knew how he was handling himself, and it was simply not acceptable. Jim tried to make an excuse by saying, “Life is a game.” Yeah, well, there are different kinds of games. The one Jim played was not appropriate for this particular reality show.
Jim also had problems with the fifth rule, which tells candidates to play well with others and stay professional. Everybody watching the show knows Jim often failed to stay professional. Indeed, when she was firing him, Martha called Jim a “loose cannon.” More than that, though, he did not play well with others.
Jim has been compared to Omarosa, but I don’t think that comparison is accurate. Omarosa didn’t play well with others because she was, quite frankly, a bitch. Jim is not the male equivalent – a jerk, an ass, whatever. He seems like a decent guy, maybe even a fun guy, but he is definitely a player. He could be mean when he believed he needed to be, but that was spawned by his playing. Omarosa was just plain mean, period. I believe in the right circumstances, Jim would be the type of guy who is fun to hang out with. Being with him in a competitive situation 24/7 might make a person homicidal, but I can think of no situation when being with Omarosa would be considered “fun.”
The point in all this is that Jim could play well with others sometimes, but other times he didn’t. He wasn’t horribly disliked, like Omarosa, but he was annoying and the other candidates felt that he could do anything at any moment. Not exactly the kind of guy you feel comfortable relying on.
The sixth rule says to focus on the long-term. Jim began focusing on the endgame from the very beginning, as he tried to get rid of strong players while keeping the ones he considered weak, who he thought would be easier to beat later on. Unfortunately, Jim forgot one very important factor – he played to get himself near the end; he failed to play to get himself the win.
Anybody who has ever watched The Apprentice knows that the winner isn’t picked until after the show runs. That means even if Martha Stewart had not seen or heard about any of his antics in the Conference Room, she would see them when the show aired on TV. He should have known there was no way she could hire somebody who acted the way he did. Yes, he made it far, but there was no way he could ever make it all the way.
Seventh is to understand the challenge. Normally, we talk about whether an applicant did the right things during a specific task. Here, the task was the interview. Jim blew part of the interview before it even started, as described earlier, because he told the president of the company that he was playing a game. However, it got even worse during the actual process. He made strange jokes in the interview, like saying he was the worst candidate “except for all the others.” He talked about it being an “easy” job. He said he was a sapling who needed to be nurtured. Etc. These are simply not things you say on a job interview. How Jim got any job with an attitude like this is simply astounding.
The eighth rule says to be creative, but not insane. Is Jim creative? Yes. Is Jim insane? Sometimes, it sure as hell seems that way.
Ninth is to not be one-dimensional. To Jim’s credit, he’s good with ideas. He’s also capable in other areas of business. However, the one area in which he fails takes us back to the first rule – he cannot lead. Without that dimension, he could not be Martha’s apprentice.
The final rule says to use common sense. Oy. Where to begin with Jim? He sometimes seemed to be completely devoid of any shred of common sense. None. Zero. Zip. Common sense would have told Jim not to harangue people in a grocery store with claims about salad dressing being good for all sorts of bizarre uses. More to the point, common sense would have told Jim not to tell the president of MSLO that he was playing a game!
Jim was good television, though he sometimes could make the viewer cringe. He was also a good game player. But he was not ever going to be a good apprentice for Martha Stewart. It’s possible that Jim might have gotten away with playing this as a game if that’s all he had done. But he didn’t. He also acted in downright bizarre ways. He failed to show himself to be a leader who could be respected. And he shot off his mouth at the wrong time by bragging to the president of MSLO about how he played. Jim was playing the wrong game, and he got caught. That is why Jim lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Apprentice: Martha Stewart Episode 12 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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